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Need to Know: Who's up, who's down as Redskins end offseason program

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Need to Know: Who's up, who's down as Redskins end offseason program

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, June 18, 42 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.

State of the Redskins

Here are some thoughts on the Redskins at the end of their offseason program. Note that the players have been in helmets and shorts and that only five of 11 practices have been open to the media.

—We still don’t know enough about the progress of Robert Griffin III to say if he will have a successful season. He has had good days in OTAs and minicamp like Tuesday and he has had some less than stellar days like Wednesday. He’s a work in progress and it’s impossible to say at this point how it will turn out. Stay tuned for Richmond and for the preseason.

—Griffin does seem to be more decisive than he did in the offseason practices and training camp last year. He rarely pumps the ball and looks confused. The question is whether he has advanced to being decisive enough to be effective in a real NFL game.

—While Griffin has had some issues, neither backup quarterback has made a compelling case that he could be the answer, either. Colt McCoy has been quite erratic, throwing a ton of interceptions. Kirk Cousins has been better but he hasn’t done anything to make me think that he could be the guy, either. It should be noted that both of the backup quarterbacks are working with other backup players so it may be a bit more difficult to shine.

—I get the feeling that Matt Jones will get a lot of touches when the season starts. He has been stepping in with the first team offense early and often. The coaches like the way he runs and the way he catches the ball. They will find ways to get him into games and get the ball in is hands.

—Trent Murphy could be the most improved returning player on defense. He has gotten stronger and he knows the game better. It’s hard to judge a player in his position without pads but he has been playing well.

—Again, it’s hard to tell in helmets and shorts but it looks like Brandon Scherff has work to do before he becomes a good right tackle and even further to go before he plays well enough to live up to his billing as the No. 5 overall pick. The good news is he’ll do the work. He is out there every day, working late with Bill Callahan. There usually have been other linemen with him but they vary from day to day. The constant is Scherff. He may not get there quickly, maybe not before the season starts, but he should get there.

Timeline

—It’s been 172 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be 87 days until they play the Dolphins at FedEx Field.

Days until: Redskins training camp starts 42; Preseason opener @ Browns 56; final cuts 80

If you have any questions about what's going on at Redskins Park, hit me up in the comments. And I'm always on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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In case you missed it

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Don't count out a third straight franchise tag for Kirk Cousins, and here's why

Don't count out a third straight franchise tag for Kirk Cousins, and here's why

For the second straight season the Redskins placed the franchise tag on Kirk Cousins. While the two sides are speaking amicably about a long-term deal, the July 15 deadline for those negotiations continues to inch closer without much expectation that contract will get signed. 

A second year on the tag is unprecedented for a quarterback. In 2016, Cousins made nearly $20 million playing on the tag. In 2017, that figure goes up to $24.

If the Redskins don't get a deal done with Cousins, many think the organization would not again go with the franchise tag because the price tag jumps to an exorbitant $34 million. 

Think again. 

Asked on Monday if another franchise tag would be an option for Cousins in 2018, Redskins team president Bruce Allen was clear.

"Yes," he said. "In the collective bargaining agreement, we really have one year and an option that we can do at the end of next season if we don’t get a contract."

Those options include the exclusive franchise tag, the non-exclusive franchise tag and the transition tag. Both franchise tags carry the same cost, but the non-exclusive allows Cousins' representatives to shop his services around the NFL. If a deal gets struck, and the Redskins don't match the contract, Washington is due two first-round draft picks as compensation for losing their franchise player. 

The transition tag carries a $28 million price tag, and the Redskins can match another contract but risk only receiving a possible 2019 third-round compensatory pick if Cousins walks.

Considering those options, another year on the non-exclusive tag might make sense. The NFL salary cap will be at least $168 million, which means Cousins at $34 million would account for about 20 percent of the Redskins' salary cap.

That's a crazy allotment for one player. Crazy. The Redskins do have about $54 million in cap space for 2018, so technically, another franchise tag could work. 

But the entire manner of the contract dealings with Cousins and the Redskins has been quite unconventional. The Redskins have already made history by franchising Cousins a second-straight year. 

"I think even Kirk said it, there’s a lot of players round the league who are on a one-year deal. It’s the nature of it, we’d like to get him a long-term deal and I think he should want to get one," Allen said. "Kirk’s played well on a one-year contract the last two seasons."

At this point, it doesn't require a degree in advanced mathematics to understand that the Redskins and Cousins have a different picture of the quarterback's long-term value. That could change by July 15th, it could, but it doesn't seem likely. The Cousins camp has little incentive to bend, as $24 million fully guaranteed for 2017 represents a great payday.

And maybe the Redskins don't plan on bending because the option of a third-straight franchise tag doesn't worry them. Or at least the option of letting Cousins shop his services on a non-exclusive tag, and then making a decision to match a deal or receive compensation seems a worthwhile endevaor. 

For Cousins, he's not counting out any possibility. 

"People, I’ve heard say, ‘There’s no chance they franchise tag him or even transition tag him the following season,’ and I chuckle because if the team has franchise tagged me for two years in a row," Cousins said to an ESPN podcast in March. 

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Redskins' offseason program ramps up with start of OTAs today

Redskins' offseason program ramps up with start of OTAs today

The Redskins’ offseason starts to move into high gear today as organized team activities, better known as OTAs, get underway at Redskins Park.

Players have been participating in workouts at Redskins Park since April 17. The first phase of those session consisted of strength and conditioning. In the second phase, they were permitted to run plays but not with the offense lined up against the defense. Finally, in OTAs, they will go offense vs. defense.

RELATED: Who are the Redskins' roster locks?

The practices, however, will not resemble an August scrimmage in Richmond. The players wear helmets but no pads and contact is not permitted. While players do block other players and there are collisions between players going after passes, the action is more like pushing and shoving that it is hitting.  

The part about no contact should be taken seriously. Seattle ran afoul of the no-contact rule last year and it cost them. The Seahawks were fined $400,000, lost their fifth-round pick in this year’s draft and they will not be permitted to hold their first week of OTAs this year. The Redskins will be very careful to keep within the rules.

MORE REDSKINS: Allen says new stadium ahead of schedule 

OTAs will be held on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday in each of the next three weeks. The sessions will be open to the media on Wednesday of each week. While player attendance is strongly encouraged the practices are voluntary.

The week after OTAs end the team will hold its minicamp on June 13-14. Minicamp is essentially a continuation of OTAs but player attendance is mandatory.

Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.